17. Girls
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Me and Melissa walked slowly along the path next to the river. I still had an arm around her waist, and she had an arm around my shoulders. We were sort of leaning against each other as we walked, and my head rested against her shoulder.

I knew anyone who saw us would assume we were boyfriend and girlfriend, but I didn't care.

Melissa needed the support, she needed the physical contact. And for that matter, so did I. I'd gone most of my life without a lot of touching and contact with people. Guys weren't supposed to hug or whatever? It was all bullshit, but we'd both grown up with it and been indoctrinated into it.

So we were both kind of touch-starved. Ontop of that, I was still dealing with the revelation about Lily's feeding last night. And Melissa was dealing with her parents being transmisic assholes.

So the two of us walked together, and we were practically hugging each other as we walked. I enjoyed it, and I figured she liked it too since she didn't want to let go of me.

Neither of us had said anything in the last five or ten minutes, we just walked quietly as we held each other, and enjoyed the fresh air, the June afternoon sun, and the sound of the river.

It was Melissa who eventually spoke up. "I'm sorry for how I reacted on Saturday, when you told me about Lily. Like I said, I've been thinking a lot about the whole thing."

"It's ok," I replied. "I freaked out a little too when she first told me. But I let her explain and it made sense."

After a brief hesitation I asked, "Does this mean you're considering letting her help you?"

She was silent for ten or fifteen seconds as we continued walking. I figured she was either thinking over her answer, or she still wasn't sure yet.

"I guess I'm considering it," she finally replied in a soft voice. "I feel guilty about it? Like, I know she can't do this for everyone. It almost feels like cheating? But I look at you and..."

Melissa sighed, "You look damn hot, Mara. I mean, we both know what you looked like before right? Now here you are all cute and petite and rocking a skirt and looking beautiful and sexy."

She shook her head, "I know if I go through a normal transition I might look ok in a year or two? But I'll never look as good as you do. Then there's the whole thing with my folks, if I don't have their support I won't even be able to afford the hormones or anything. So it's like, the whole thing gets further and further away? But you and Lily could give it to me right now. Like skipping to the front of the line and getting the best result ever."

She sighed again, "It's so tempting I can't even put it into words. And yeah I'm also scared, like scared of her and scared of what it might cost me? I just don't know."

I held her a little tighter, "I don't know what sort of deal Lily would make with you, she says she'd have to talk to you about it? But if you don't like it, you don't have to do it. I trust her though. I could be wrong, but I don't think she'd ask for anything you wouldn't be ok giving her."

Melissa nodded slowly, then said "There's also the whole education thing. If I was to do this, I'd probably wind up living on your sofa. I'd have to look for work and my only work experience is like, being a stock boy at a home-reno place. So I guess that counts as retail experience but it's not great."

She glanced at me and asked, "What are your plans, if you don't mind saying? Have you thought about finding work?"

I grinned, "I was looking into setting myself up as a cam-girl. It looks like a lot of fun, and the money's ok?"

Melissa almost tripped over her feet as her eyes bulged out. "Seriously?! You're going to start selling nude pictures and sex videos?"

I giggled "Maybe? It beats the hell out of flipping burgers or scrubbing toilets."

"Your mom won't be happy," she pointed out.

"Yeah Lily said the same thing," I smiled. "She doesn't want me to do it either. Anyways I was only looking into it, no decisions have been made. Mom is pretty set on me going to college in September."

"How?" Melissa asked. "I thought you needed the job to afford it?"

I leaned closer and whispered, "I don't know if this is a secret, so keep it to yourself? But SUV guy's insurance company settled. They gave mom five hundred thousand. She put fifty thousand into an education fund for me, she put another fifty thousand aside to get herself a new car. She gave me a couple thousand I guess to make up for spending money since I'm not working? And the rest went into a special savings, like maybe towards a new house or whatever."

Melissa stared at me with wide eyes again, but she was smiling too. "Mara that's great! I'm so happy for you and your mom! I mean, it sucks that your uh 'brother' died and all. But like, wow. That must really help you two out, money-wise."

"Yeah," I nodded. "I just have no idea what I want to learn, you know? I mean, I never had the option before so I never had to worry about it. Now it's like, I guess I could take any class I wanted but I don't know what I want."

She grimaced and shook her head slightly, "Not gonna lie Mara, I'm envious again. Same as you, I never really had a choice in things? My dad's been insisting I go to business school and get my MBA for ages. It sounds boring as hell but if he's paying for my education he's going to pick what I learn."

"Fuck," I sighed. "What do you want to learn instead? What do you want to do?"

She shrugged, "I don't know. At one point I thought about going into photography?"

That surprised me. I'd never heard her talk about an interest in the arts before, and as far as I knew she wasn't an amateur photographer or anything like that.

"Really? Is that something you're interested in, or what's the draw for you? Why photography?"

She blushed and whispered, "When I was little I kind of wanted to be an actress, or a model. Then as I got older and realized that wasn't possible, I kind of thought photography would be like, next best thing? It was never a serious passion or whatever, it was more like the runner-up choice. Anyways like I said, my dad picked what I'd be taking years ago, so the choice was out of my hands anyways."

I was quiet for a bit as I thought that through. It hadn't occured to me before, but getting quality pictures of myself would take a lot more skill than just snapping a selfie. Like I assumed there's a lot of artistic knowledge and skill that goes into getting good pictures, and I didn't know any of that stuff.

After a minute or so I replied quietly, "You know if you let Lily help you, you could go into modelling or acting after all. And now you've got me thinking about photography. I'd need some training, if I want to get good quality shots as a cam-girl."

Melissa stifled a laugh, "Oh God Mara, seriously? You want to learn photography so you can take better nude selfies?"

She shook her head, then blushed even brighter and whispered, "Crap, if I took Lily's offer I might have to sell nudes with you to pay my way through college."

A second later her eyes widened and her face went beet-red as she added "I don't mean with-you with you! Like I don't mean both of us together! I just meant..."

If I wasn't holding on to her I might have fallen over giggling at her embarrassment. It took me a minute or so to settle down then I grinned "I know what you meant, don't worry. Though you know, we'd probably make a lot more money if we did some shoots together. Guys really go for that girl-on-girl stuff, you know?"

She choked and coughed and nearly died of embarrassment, but I just grinned and held her a little tighter.

"Sorry, I'll stop teasing."

We finally turned around and started back the other way along the path. We were both quiet again for a while as she was settling down and her blush eventually faded.

Once she was calmed down again, she asked softly "I thought you weren't into me?"

That caught me off guard, and I actually had to think about it for a minute or so as we kept walking.

I finally whispered, "I'm not into guys. That ruled you out when I thought you were a guy. Now I know you're a girl, suddenly you're a lot more attractive to me?"

She sighed softly but was quiet for a few paces. Finally she asked "You mean after I let Lily use magic to help me, assuming that's what I do? Or after a year or two of HRT, when I look more feminine. Because right now I still look like a guy."

I shook my head, "That's not what I mean at all. I meant exactly what I said Melissa. Now that I know you're a girl, you're suddenly a lot more attractive to me. I haven't been hugging and leaning against some guy while we walked up and down the path. I'm hugging and leaning against a girl."

Melissa was quiet after that, and I got the feeling she was a little too emotional to trust her voice. The two of us continued to hold each other as we walked back the way we came. We passed the bench then crossed over the river together, then climbed up the hill and wound up at her car in the little lot by the playground.

We finally let go of each other there when she unlocked the car, and we both climbed inside.

Melissa started it up and got the air conditioner going to cool off the interior. Then she gulped and asked, "So if I wanted to find out what kind of deal Lily has for me, how do I do that?"

Lily had been silent since Melissa texted me, but I figured she was listening.

She spoke up now, "I can speak directly with Melissa if you let me? It would be like 'channelling' again, except this is a private conversation. So you would have to take a little nap."

I blinked a few times then looked at Melissa. "Uh, she can talk to you right now if you want? She says I have to take a nap though because it's private, between you and her."

Melissa looked uncertain, "Is that ok with you? I remember on Friday you didn't like doing that channelling thing, and you were awake for that right?"

I took a deep breath then sighed as I thought it over. I finally nodded, "It's ok with me. Honestly I have to get used to this? It was part of the deal I agreed to on Saturday. We're sharing my..."

I paused and frowned, then shook my head "No actually, it's not my body. It's ours, and we share it. And I have to get used to this. So yes I'm ok with it."

My best friend still looked nervous, and she looked like she was worried for me. But she nodded, "Ok. I'd like to speak with her please."

Lily told me, "Just relax Mara. Don't be afraid."

I nodded slightly. A moment later I felt a sensation like falling, combined with falling asleep. It was like I was suddenly overcome with exhaustion and my vision went dark, then black. At the same time I felt myself falling backwards into the warmest, softest, most comfortable bed.

And a split second later I was awake again. I was slumped back in the passenger seat in Melissa's car. We were still in the parking lot by the playground at the park. I had no sense of time, I wasn't sure if I slept for a second or a minute or an hour.

Melissa still looked like herself, she was sitting in the drivers seat. I couldn't decipher her expression. She was sort of frowning and staring down at the steering wheel. She looked lost in thought, like whatever was on her mind was something really big and heavy.

I sat up and stretched slightly, "Hey. It's Mara here again. How'd it go?"

She looked at me and asked, "Did you hear any of that?"

I shook my head "Nope. That was like the deepest sleep I've ever had in a nap. How long was I out?"

"About a half hour," she replied quietly. "Lily said it was up to me whether or not I told you about our conversation. She said she wouldn't share anything with you."

"Yeah," I nodded, "She mentioned that to me before. Whatever you two discussed is private, between you and her."

Melissa nodded slowly, then asked "Are you going to ask if I made a deal with her?"

I hesitated for a second, then shook my head "Nope. I'm curious of course, but I won't pry."

She smiled, "Thanks Mara. Want to head back to your place now?"

"Sure," I smiled back at her.

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